Shortly after 1303 the monks of Holmcultram erected one of these fortified churches at Newton Arlosh for the protection of their tenants The bishop's licence for the building of the church of Newton Arlosh is dated II April 1304, and runs thus : ' considerantes insuper statum vestrum per hostiles invasiones et depredaciones Scottorum adeo depauperatum quod terras vestras more solito ad commodum vestrum excolere non potestis . . . concedimus . . . ut liceat vobis in territorio vestro de Arlosk infra fines vestros predictos unam capellam seu ecclesiam de novo construere pro vestris inquilinis et inhabitantibus infra fines vestros de Holm morantibus . . . Quam capellam seu ecclesiam, cum constructa fuerit, iuxta decenciam, etc. (Harleian MS. 391 1 (Reg. of Holmcultram), ff. 7-8) (VCH)
This, rather poorly written, entry in the VCH has been suggested as a licence to crenellate. however, it reads as the erection of a new church to produce new income from a growing population at Arlosh (i.e. one not suffering from Scots raids) The suggestion here is this was a new church built, to provide income, in an area not suffering from Scottish raids where the population was growing. Actually elsewhere in the Register it is clear that most of the financial difficult for Holm Cultram, at this time, was the loss of a church and market at Skinburness to sea floods - The mention of Scots is there probably to support and justify Edward I's invasion of Scotland. This is more fully explained earlier in the Register.
A church of St. John the Baptist was built at Newton Arlosh in accordance with the bishop's licence of 1304, but the date of its erectionat any rate in the from of which we see its oldest traces is not necessarily that of the permission to build. Its fortified pele-tower is the remarkable feature, and such towers were not built under Edward I. The fortified tower of Burgh-by-Sands, which most nearly resembles it, and was also built by Holm abbey, can be dated by the notice of 1360, in Bishop Welton's register, of a commission for enquiring into the fall of arches connected with that tower, described as then new (V.C.H. Cumb. i, 257). Indeed in 1304, when Edward I was taking the offensive against Scotland, there was no need for such defences. It was only after the raids culminating in 1322 with Bruce's great invasion that Cumberland awoke to the necessity, and even then showed very tardy activity. Most of the pele-towers date from the time when Edward III had been some time on the throne, and English courage and resources revived. And the confirmation in 1393 by the bishop of Carlisle and by King Richard II of the licence to have a church at Newton Arlosh, quoted below, looks as though it had not been built even at that late date. (Grainger, F. and Collingwood, W.G., 1929, Register & Records of Holm Cultram p. 136-)